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A new approach for uncomfortable conversations

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Today’s tip: Give people bad news in a direct way. They can handle it.

If you want to have more honest conversations with a loved one, the person to focus on is yourself. The therapist Kathleen Smith recommends asking yourself how you treat someone when a difficult subject arises: “Do you act as though they’ll start crying? As if they’re going to snap at you or bolt out of the room?” If so, you end up reinforcing their sensitivity. It’s a cycle: You sense they can’t handle what you’re about to say, so you become anxious, and then they become anxious, and the whole conversation shuts down.

Smith’s advice: Give people credit as if they’ve already earned it. “When you’re calmer, the whole relationship is calmer,” she writes. “You give the other person a chance to breathe, think clearly, and share what’s on their mind.”

📚 More from Forge on getting through uncomfortable moments:

How to Talk to Someone Whose Opinions You Can’t Stand

Let the Awkward Pause Be Awkward

3 Ways to Rescue a Conversation That’s Going Nowhere

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